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Host: First of all, did you ever have an idea when you said the seven books
you could see, that into the 21st century, you would still have
wonderful, relevant tales to be telling within that universe?
Sharon Lee: We had certainly hoped so. It was a big universe and we
deliberately tried not to, some writers try to, I do not know if
they try to, but they build a very tight universe because it is
easier to keep track of stuff that way. The Liaden universe is a
sprawl, there are a lot of loosely connected worlds, all kinds
of different customs, and it is hard to keep track of. We should
have started writing the concordant [inaudible: 00:45], but we
did not do that. We figured we could keep it all in our heads.
We certainly knew that there were lots and lots of stories left.
5,000 in the Naked City, 50,000 stories, do not know. It is a
universe with a lot of people. One of my friends said at one
point, 'The Liaden Universe is a universe where people take out
Steve Miller: In fact, they do. This gives us a chance to work, not only with
the interplay between cultures, because you got a Terran culture
and a Liaden culture. The Liadens are stratified so it gives us
some fun class war stuff, and some of it is fun, and some of it
is downright serious.
It has allowed us to layer things into the books that, over
time, we have had people come up and say, 'I did not know that
this was not just a throwaway line, but three books later here
it is and it is the center of this next story.' There are
narrative hooks and plot hooks throughout that we still have not
finished knitting back together.
Host: I have to ask you about SRM, because it really is a new facet, not
brand new, but a new facet of your careers. I was wondering do
you find that, this is a multilayered question, it is terrible,
but do you find that it enhances your work or takes away from
the time you need for writing?
Steve Miller: Actually, we need should define SRM, SRM is our end publisher.
Steve Miller: In fact, the SRM Publisher began as an extension of our fans,
of what the fans needed because there had been a hiatus for us
when we had sold the first three books, and then we got a new
editor in house who did not like our style or wanted to . . .
Sharon Lee: She did not like 'Space Opera'. She wanted to bring science
fiction to the next level.
Steve Miller: We did not sell anything for a while, but we had fans and they
kept writing to us and contacting us, eventually through the
Internet, saying, 'We need something more, we need something
more.' We had a couple of stories that we sent out to magazines,
and we were killing off magazines regularly . . .
Sharon Lee: We stopped, for the good of the field, we stopped sending these
stories out. They were accepted for about three magazines
apiece, and then the magazine died.
Steve Miller: What happened then, was I said, 'We can put this out. We can
put together a chat book for you guys.' It is coming up on
Christmas, for Christmas we will put out this chat book. At that
point, we needed an official name, so it became SRM, but that
was 'Two Tales of Korval,' and that was written, that was put
together for the fans in 1995. We sold a few, then we sold a few
more to some more to some of the book stores. That was cool. In
July of the following year somebody said . . .
Sharon Lee: In fandom, once you do something, it is a tradition. The next
year somebody came in, it was about July.
Steve Miller: About July.
Sharon Lee: Jumping the gun trying to get some Christmas shopping done
early, and asked, 'What is this year's chat book going to be?'
Host: I understand that. That makes sense.
Steve Miller: And we said, 'This year's?' The fans, our readers, essentially
invented SRM, and for the first few years, that was all we were
doing. It was not a distraction, it was not very much of a
distraction, because we were only selling 100 or 200 copies over
a year's span, then we had another one to do, so we had a few
multiple orders. Now we print around 1,000 copies of chat book
to begin with, then it is not quite print-on-demand, we usually
print in 50s and 100s.
Sharon Lee: A few more, but usually it is a subscription basis, currently
Host: Do you see you going forward with this and bringing in other authors
under your . . .
Sharon Lee: We have done that.
Steve Miller: We have already . . .
Host: I know.
Steve Miller: It is funny, because what we found out for ourselves is that
when we did not have novels out, and sometimes just the way
scheduling works, you do not always have a fresh novel. I am
sorry. Coming in this year, it might be . . . like this
convention, our novel comes out next week.
Sharon Lee: Next, well, yes.
Steve Miller: It is due next week.
Host: That is 'Fledgling,' right?
Steve Miller: No, this is 'Long Eye'.
Sharon Lee: No, this is 'Long Eye'.
Host: 'Long Eye,' sorry.
Steve Miller: We have 'Long Eye' coming out next week, then 'Fledgling' will
be coming out . . .
Sharon Lee: In September.
Steve Miller: . . . in September, just after WorldCon. Sometimes when you
attend a convention, it is good to have something for people to
sign, so the chat books are very good for that. Along the line
we ran into some authors we know who were not having a novel
this year, so we would say, 'Would you like a chat book?' This
gives you something . . .
Sharon Lee: Do you have any short stories? It gives you something to take
to the Con and show people, and say, 'This is my new work.'
Steve Miller: 'This is what I am doing,' and it is a very . . . from our own
standpoint, it is also a good connection with the fans and the
Steve Miller: To be able to, 'Here is something, let me sign it. Here, you
have something to read.' We have Laurent Shone, we have done
three chat books of Laurent Shone's work, and he was a John W.
Campbell award nominee, in part, from our chat books, which
scared the heck out of me.
Host: That is wonderful.
Sharon Lee: No, it is, it is. Laurent has done very well.
Steve Miller: We have done . . .
Sharon Lee: Lou Emerson.
Steve Miller: Lou Emerson, Mark Tidderman. We have done a collection of work
by a former New York Science Fiction editor who has stopped
being an editor and become a creative writing instructor, Dave
Harris, I am sorry, David Harris.
Sharon Lee: David Harris
Steve Miller: We have done some of that, we have looked at some other work,
and we do intend to do more. As a distraction, in some ways it
is, and on the other hand, it is a way to keep a certain energy
level up, because we find that writing goes through a cycle, and
you . . . especially at the end of a book.
Sharon Lee: Yes. At the end of a book everything stops. You should not, we
use every dish in the house. the sink is a disgrace. There are
some days when, yes, you can sit in front of the computer eight
hours, you can put yourself in there and you are going to get
500 words out of that eight hours, and you might as well do
something else while you are brain is not working.
Steve Miller: That works out as an evener.
Host: It stimulates creativity. It enhances, rather than takes away . . .
Host: . . . which is pretty much what I was figuring by seeing what you are
accomplishing, it made sense to me.